He was born drowning, flailing in a red, murky abyss. Spluttering and coughing, he was wrenched from the depths and blinded by harsh light. Dark, blurry shadows loomed above him and as red liquid cascaded from his body, a curious affiliation with water cemented in his mind.
After nearly two years, the boy’s parents had begun to grow worried that their son had neither spoken nor been able to master the ability to walk. Astonishingly, one week later on the morning of the boy’s birthday, they woke to find their two-year-old son running happily around the bed. Not only had he learnt to walk but had also managed to climb out of his cot and navigate his way down the corridor to his parent’s bedroom. Still shocked from this starling new revelation, the boy’s parents sat down for breakfast at the dining table and were in the process of preparing the morning’s coffee when the second surprise of the day took place. Their son, who was sat on the dining room windowsill, watching the children outside splashing around in muddy puddles in raincoats and wellies, opened his mouth and spoke his first words. ‘Rain’. Not ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, words you might expect from a toddler but ‘rain’. He smiled widely, his eyes glistening like opals, as he watched the heavy droplets slide and trickle down the glass.
At four, he had his first bike and by five he was able to cycle proficiently. Many a warm Sunday evening the family spent on gentle walks around the small hamlet in which they resided. The boy whizzed ahead on his newly purchased set of wheels, giggling madly and puffing out his cheeks, imitating the revs of a motorbike. His parents were hard done by to keep up, as their overexcited child flew down the country lane in front of them, the wind rippling through his tangled mass of curly blonde hair. He wanted to go faster, till the air screeched in his ears and the trees either side of him grew blurry. He should have known to stop when his father shouted his name but a fierce determination to see himself lift off the ground and soar high and far away compelled him to go on. He flew over the crest of the hill and his father’s cries were cut off as a rush of wind flooded the boy’s ears.
He landed heavily on the gravel path below and shot forwards down the hill. His eyes watered as the great wall of air whipped up against his face. The bike shook and trembled, throwing the boy around in his seat, as the large wheels of his bike, thundered over the large jagged stones of the dusty path. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, feeling an immense weight lift from his body. He was free. Releasing his hands from the handles, he lifted his arms out wide and let out a loud yell. He was brought back to earth with a searing pain in his left arm. The front wheel of the bike had lost control and twisted round to the left, causing the back wheel to jerk up wildly, bucking the young passenger from his seat. He had sailed through the air still yelling and collided painfully with the gravel path below him. His parents found him a few seconds later, curled up in a ball at the foot of a tree, clutching a deep gash underneath his elbow. His right leg was also bleeding, the large patch of sticky blood, covered in grit and soil. He did not cry or wail but simply sat very motionless, still clutching his arm, staring mistily ahead and trembling.
When he was nine years old he nearly drowned for the second time in his life. One afternoon he and his friends had gone down to the beach with the intention of rock pooling for crabs and jellyfish. However, once they got down there they found something far more interesting. A large hewn of rock sat half submerged in the icy waters, a few yards out. According to one of the boys it was actually a cave, only approachable from underneath, by swimming up into it. The four of them jostled around in the shallows, daring one another to be the first, when without a word the boy dived forwards into the dark waters and disappeared from sight. The other boys waited anxiously for his return, exchanging nervous looks and hushed whispers. Underneath the water the boy kicked his legs out hard, searching through the murky, dark waters for the right way to go. A large black shadow loomed overhead and he surmised that his must be directly underneath the great rock. Feeling his lungs beginning to strain with the effort he forced himself up, in a better attempt to locate the cave entrance. In his eagerness to reach the surface, he had swum too hastily upwards and collided painfully with the sharp underside of the rock. Panicking, he started flailing wildly with his arms and legs, pulling himself desperately along the bottom of the rock. He fought and fought but all he met was more dark rock. The last reserves of oxygen were beginning to drain from his lungs and his chest and temples were starting to ache with a sharp stabbing pain. As he floundered through the water, his hands and body scraping against the jagged rock, the realization that he was going to die flooded his brain. His vision was becoming dark and he could feel his arms and legs begin to slacken. It was at this moment that the hand that had been frantically scouring across the dark rock, slipped upwards out of the water. A few seconds later he burst through a gap in the rock, gasping and choking on the cool cave air. Life had given him a second chance.
The boy climbed higher and higher, his skinny frame wrapped around the trunk of the tree. Now twelve, his new fascination was with heights and the bigger the better. He was in the process of scaling a particularly large oak, located in the nearby park. Finding a suitably comfortable branch, he carefully lowered himself down and rested his back against the hard bark. He looked out across the orange, sun-bathed park and inhaled deeply into his nostrils. He was alone. The only other person for miles around was a lone walker throwing a tennis ball for his dog. His parents were at home. The boy had snuck out of his house at first light. If they had known he was climbing a tree he would have been in serious trouble. Since his incident on the bike and the whole cave fiasco, his parents had become a little high maintenance when it came to dangerous activities. None of his friends were here either. Ever since that day on the beach the few friends that he had, were too scared to go near him. The boy had gained a reputation for being a bit of a reckless daredevil. This wouldn’t have been bothered the other kids so much but it was the more the way the boy acted. He was quiet, almost to the point of mute and all he did was sit in a corner at birthday parties, watching and listening everybody else until he would suddenly disappear and be found twenty minutes later sitting precariously on the roof of the house. Feeling a sudden urge to get higher, the boy cautiously stood up with the aid of the tree. A strong gust of wind whipped up, ruffling the leaves and making the tree sway and bow. The boy clung on to the trunk but not with fear. Instead, he began to laugh, a crazed look of elation in his eyes. His heart hammered loud and fast in his chest, as throwing caution aside he inched slowly along the branch. There was a creak from underneath and the branch dipped, making his stomach lurch. He made a desperate lunge for the trunk and held on for dear life. He rested his head against the coarse bark and slowly let out a deep, quivering breath. When the deep thuds in his chest had subsided a little he smiled, leant back his head and laughed at the sky.
Age 15 he bought his first ever album, went home and listened to it non stop for a week. He didn’t listen to the album again for another ten years.
He was sent to prison at nineteen for aggravated assault after an altercation with another man in a bar. The other man started the fight by throwing a punch and received a hard shove in the chest as a response. Unfortunately, the two were standing by a set of low steps and when the other man was pushed backwards, he slipped on a wet patch of floor, causing him to fall awkwardly and catch his head on the edge of the top step. The nasty fall resulted in severe brain damage and thus the nineteen-year-old boy was found guilty and sentenced to three years imprisonment.
His first year of imprisonment was particularly hard, wherein he was subjected to brutal and savage beatings from the other inmates when he refused to become the cell bitch. Eventually, after 13 months of physical torture and abuse, he finally snapped. One afternoon four inmates cornered him in the showers and tried to have their way with him. Two of them were hospitalized as a result of their efforts and the other two were forever seen walking with a limp. The young man was put in solitary confinement for two months, which was tough but eventually when he was let out, no one ever approached him again.
When he was released at the age of 22, he appealed to his parents for support but found that they had cut him out of their lives, so ashamed of their son’s poor choices. With nowhere to go and no job, he ended up on the streets, living off the kindness of passing strangers.
After a year living on the street he eventually managed to get a job as a bin man and obtain a council flat. The next few years he spent in lonely solitude with only the sound of the abusive couple next door and the local drug dealers pounding out heavy bass from the flat above. He worked long hours and overtime, burying himself into his job until he became numb from it all.
On his 28th birthday the man took all the money he had saved up over the last five years and backpacked his way to France. From there he joined the Camino de Santiago, the Pilgrims Walk. His intention was to have a fresh start, cleanse his hands of his bloodied past and start anew. It was when he was staying in a hostel in Spain that he met a young woman of 25 who was doing the pilgrimage as a promise to her late grandfather. The two hit it of immediately and teamed up to complete the trek together.
The young man and woman got married in late spring four years later and another year after that adopted two children from a nearby foster home. They were both against the idea of a natural birth, as they felt there were enough parentless kids in the world in desperate need of a good home.
He worked in the day as a delivery driver and in the night a cleaner at his son’s primary school. She worked in physiotherapy, after suffering herself from a leg injury sustained from playing hockey in her youth.
The man was involved in a head on collision with another car when he was 37 years old. It left him with incurable brain damage, karma for the man he dealt brain damage aged 19 . A week later, the man woke up as usual at four a.m. He made his wife her morning cup of coffee, despite knowing she would hit snooze and it would go cold, got dressed and left the house. However, instead of driving to work he took the M25 down to Brighton. When he got there he bought an ice cream and sat on the beach. It was a cloudy, rainy day but the man seemed to be for all intense and purposes content. When he finished his ice cream he stood up, wiped the crumbs from his jacket and walked down the pebbled beach and into the sea. The water was icy cold but the man seemed unaffected by the chill. He kept walking until his feet could no longer touch the bottom. At 7 a.m. his wife rubbed her tired eyes and grimaced as she took a sip of her stone cold coffee. At this moment approximately 60 miles away the man disappeared under the waves, never to resurface again.
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